Kara LaPoint is the first to admit that her success on the trails did not come the traditional way. Currently second in the XTERRA Pan Am Pro Points standings, LaPoint believes that the key to her success is that she trusts her instincts.
“I do not have a typical approach to racing and training at all," she admitted. "I have been told numerous times that I’m not doing the right things or that I will never be as successful as I might otherwise be because I don’t take things seriously enough, don’t go to bed at the right time, am not focused enough, am not enough of a planner, or whatever else. My approach may be unique but it’s the one that works for me.”
To be clear, LaPoint’s approach is to make sure she is always having fun.
“With how demanding XTERRA is, I think it’s important to keep not just your body, but your mind feeling fresh and excited about what you are doing. I’m not super strict about sticking to a plan so if a particular training session doesn’t sound good to me that day, I know it’s for a reason and I’ll do something totally different.”
There is no doubt that as unconventional as her approach to training may be, it’s working for her. She has been remarkably consistent all season. In her last seven races, the only time LaPoint finished further back than fifth place was when she double-flatted at XTERRA Oak Mountain. And even then, she finished 7th in the women’s division, just 2 minutes off the podium.
LaPoint was 5th at XTERRA Beaver Creek in a field that included Lesley Paterson, Suzie Snyder, Julie Baker, and Morgane Riou. In fact, Snyder and Riou were the only athletes ahead of LaPoint in races like XTERRA Costa Rica (2nd), XTERRA Dominican Republic (2nd), and XTERRA Argentina (3rd).
“I did have a goal to finish in the top three overall in the Pan Am Series,” said LaPoint, “And I also had a dream goal of finishing on the podium in every race this year. With the exception of Alabama, I have achieved that.”
LaPoint also did this with an extensive travel schedule that included racing in six different country. In August, she raced in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, and Canada, and then came home to win XTERRA Aspen Valley on August 19th. This crazy schedule meant time zone changes, different diets, and random bed times.
“In Argentina we ate dinner around ten and didn’t go to bed until one in the morning. Getting stressed about that would be a waste of energy. I quickly discovered the best approach was to embrace the chance to experience a new culture and just enjoy being in the moment,” she said.
Yet, LaPoint’s busy season and travel schedule have made her more excited about the XTERRA National/Pan Am Championship, not less.
“The Pan Am Championship is a race I’ve prioritized since the beginning of the year, so I’m really looking to do something special. I’ll be shooting for my best performances of the year both in Ogden and Maui. I’m feeling very strong right now and having a ton of fun, which for me, is the key to good racing.”
LaPoint is quick to give credit to her team of coaches, sponsors, family, friends, and even race volunteers. She is also grateful to her competition, which is fierce. For example, at XTERRA Oak Mountain, LaPoint was 7th among the women, but only eight minutes behind runner up Lesley Paterson. Suzie Snyder. Julie Baker, Maia Ignatz, Emma Garrard, and Debby Sullivan are just some of the names you will see in the American top ten, swapping positions depending on the day and the course.
“I have so much respect for everyone I’m racing with right now and am really inspired by each of their unique stories and backgrounds, different approaches to racing, and the variety of things they are balancing. It’s an empowering group to be a part of, and I think there’s a domino effect there where the more we continue to inspire one another, push each other, and support one another in our efforts, the further our level of racing will continue to rise.”
There is no doubt that the XTERRA National/Pan Am Championship will be an exciting race down to the wire. And Kara LaPoint is up for the challenge.
“I’ve never been the true front runner, but that doesn’t mean that I’m not still going to toe the start line each time having pictured myself hoisting that banner at the finish, believing with every fiber of my being that it is possible, and committing to doing everything within my control to chase down that dream.”